Chasing down corporate card expense documentation is a routine that finance teams know all too well. Card holders spend money on the company card, but since they’re not outlaying their own money, they aren’t as incentivized to track expenses. They intend to submit the receipt, but then it gets lost, and eventually they force the finance team into bounty hunter mode at month’s end. Even then, you’re lucky if people have all the documentation they need. There has to be a better way.
Intelligent expense reporting makes it nearly seamless to reconcile charges, but that solution only goes so far. As long as humans are still part of the process, human error will cause problems. That’s where these tactics come in. Here are five ways to help corporate card users help their finance team:
Automate the process as much as possible.
The less you ask people to do, the less likely they are to break the process. So instead of making somebody fill out information days after an expense was transacted, let software do the work. If the card user can snap a picture of the receipt right when they get it, intelligent reconciliation tools can match the information from the receipt to the card transaction data when it comes in on the back end. From the card user’s end, they’re done after one snapshot. Submitting a complete record becomes easier, which means card users won’t put it off.
Show card holders how faster expensing helps you out.
Most employees see expense reporting as a bureaucratic chore. Change that perception by putting a face on the process. Your face. When orienting employees with their new corporate card, give them a high-level overview of what you need to reconcile their account, and why you need it. Show how accurate, prompt submissions make your life easier and help the business move faster. People will be more inclined to get in all their documentation quickly if they know they’re being helpful to colleagues, not just doing busywork.
Sit down with the worst offenders and speak their language.
Every employee wants to help out the business, even if their pile of unsubmitted expenses is getting close to being a mountain. If you deal with a serially late submitter, sit down with them and explain your needs in business terms they understand. For example: if the delinquent is an executive, describe how much more efficient your team would be if your books closed faster. If it’s an engineer, explain how waiting for documentation holds up a host of other processes. Sell the need for good internal reporting and you’ll get good reporting in return.
Know who you have to bug before you have to bug them.
With a real time expense reporting tool, you don’t have to wonder who is going to surprise you with a stack of unsubmitted expenses at the end of the month. At a glance, you’ll be able to see a live look at the status of all your corporate cards. That’ll help you identify who you need to follow up with before it becomes urgent. The added lead time gives you more ability to loop in managers or send reminder messages before the books need to close.
Make expense reporting rewarding.
You don’t need to spend money to give employees an incentive to submit on time. Recognizing people for submitting proper reporting goes a long way. You could give shout-outs at company meetings, post kudos in Slack, or even just send out a thoughtful email reply when they submit — “Thanks for helping us close our books on time!” The goal is simply to turn an otherwise mundane task into a small win that employees will want to achieve again.
Easy apps change habits.
If you want to reconcile corporate card expenses quicker, you have to help employees build the habit of submitting the documentation right away. A big part of this involves lowering the barrier to submission. Making employees feel good when they help you out, and knowing how to follow up when they don’t, doesn’t hurt.
Most important is to have a report submission experience that’s as effortless as possible. When submitting expenses is easy, people are more likely to get it over with sooner rather than later. Your books close on time, the team moves faster, and the company can get more done.